Take a road trip: Mentone, Alabama, where time stands still

Staff file photo / The Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail winds its way through DeSoto State Park.

Editor's note: This is part of a series on small towns within driving distance of Chattanooga that are big on charm and amenities while still offering space to spread out.

Filled with friendly locals and overloaded with charm, small towns make the perfect getaway for those looking for a change of pace, a place to ditch city life for just a bit. And during the pandemic, they've become popular with travelers looking for a way to escape.

According to Airbnb's 2021 U.S. Travel Report, 51% of respondents said they are "more interested in being isolated beyond major tourist areas than they are in being surrounded by people and energy (24%)." Sixty-two percent said they wanted to vacation within driving distance of home.

Vrbo, another short-term rental site for homeowners around the globe, also notes that its customers are preferring to escape to destinations closer to home, seeking nature-oriented experiences when they do.